Coalition Statement On Leaked FAA Memo

FAA’s Own Data Shows DCA Operates Under Capacity At Multiple Times Per Day

Washington, D.C. – The Capital Access Alliance (CAA), a coalition of transportation and business leaders from Virginia and around the country seeking to make air travel to and from Washington, D.C. more accessible and affordable, made the following statement regarding an unsigned memo from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that was leaked to the media today that purports to show adding more flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) “would likely have a negative impact on operational performance and passenger experience.”

“It should not go overlooked by Members of Congress that this unsigned two-page memo contradicts a 2020 report by the General Accounting Office as well as an extensive 100-page study by one of the country’s top management consulting firms, both of which detailed how DCA is currently underutilized, with the capacity to add dozens of more flights per day.  Both reports also made clear that due to the fact DCA does not operate at capacity at key points each day, additional daily flights would not have a discernable impact on the passenger experience,” CAA spokesman Brian Walsh said today.  “In fact, this leaked memo raises more questions than it answers in terms of why bureaucrats at the FAA might be seeking to end run policymakers on Capitol Hill with cherry-picked data. Notably, it fails to address why the FAA’s own data shows that in multiple time periods per day, DCA operates well under capacity.”  

Walsh concluded, “The reality is that as we’ve seen with the blind opposition from MWAA, there is always going to be an entrenched government bureaucracy in Washington resistant to change, but the time has come to modernize this nearly 60-year old government regulation in order to meet air travel demand in 2023, while giving air travelers more choices at lower costs.”


  • DCA is the only airport in the country subject to the federally imposed perimeter rule and restrictions on the number of flights allowed beyond the 1,250-mile perimeter. Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Burgess Owens (R-UT) recently introduced the bipartisan Direct Capital Access Act – or DCA Act – that would add 28 in-and beyond-perimeter flights at DCA, which would be allocated among all the airlines that currently serve the airport. 
  • According to a 2020 study by the General Accounting Office study titled, “Reagan National Airport – Information on Effects of Federal Statute Limiting Long-Distance Flights”:
    • According to FAA officials, as of August 2020, there are currently 39 total daily unallocated slots available for commercial airlines at Reagan National … Reagan National is also operating well below the 12 maximum authorized hourly reservations for general aviation aircraft. 
  • new study details with supporting data that DCA is an underutilized airport and has the capacity to add dozens more flights – especially given its recent $1 billion expansion. Additional flights would help boost competition, lower ticket prices and give thousands more daily passengers direct access to and from DCA. In addition, more flights would strengthen the National Capital Region’s economy by generating up to $400 million in economic value and creating more than 1,000 local jobs. 

About CAA

CAA consists of diverse members from around the country and various industries, including transportation, general business groups, the small business sector, entrepreneurs and job creators, organizations focused on economic development, and leaders in the civic and policy communities. 

Learn more about Capital Access Alliance HERE.